Bill that adds ‘vulnerable adults’ to human trafficking offenses heading to governor for signature

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ST. GEORGE — Millions of children, women and men are trafficked each year, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Now, a Utah legislator is tackling human trafficking offenses by adding an additional group of people to the list of those whom are potentially trafficked – vulnerable adults.

According to the Human Trafficking Amendments bill, designated as House Bill 20, a vulnerable adult is defined as an adult who has a mental or physical impairment that significantly affects that person’s ability to do the following:

  • Provide personal protection.
  • Provide necessities, such as food and health care.
  • Obtain services necessary for health, safety or welfare.
  • Carry out the activities of daily life.
  • Manage his or her own resources.
  • Comprehend the nature and consequences of remaining in a situation of abuse, neglect or exploitation.

The bill was signed by the speaker of the Utah House of Representatives last week.

During a second reading, the bill’s floor sponsor Sen. Jacob Anderegg, R-Salt Lake City, said there is already an existing statute that deals with human trafficking; however, trafficking a vulnerable adult wasn’t included in the provision.

“As far as right now, somebody who’s mentally deficient, maybe mentally retarded, who is exploited was left off the list,” he said, adding that he didn’t know why they weren’t on the current list.

Under the bill, trafficking a vulnerable adult would be considered a first-degree felony. The bill also clarifies that someone who knowingly benefits from human trafficking of a child can be charged as a perpetrator.

In addition, when the bill was first introduced on Jan. 28, the bill’s sponsor Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, said it contains a variety of fixes, such as changing references of “prostitution” to “commercial sex.” HB 20 also clarifies that human trafficking of a child is an offense for which no statute of limitation applies.

Read more: See all St. George News reports and opinions on Utah Legislature 2019 issues

Resources

Southern Utah Reps. Travis Seegmiller, Bradley Last, V. Lowry Snow, Walt Brooks, Rex Shipp, Merrill Nelson and Phil Lyman | Listing of all members of the House of Representatives.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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